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EDUCATION

Global list ranks Karolinska university best in Sweden

Karolinska Institute has climbed four places to 44th in the annual Shanghai Ranking, while two other Swedish universities also feature in the global top 100.

Global list ranks Karolinska university best in Sweden
Karolinska Institute. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

Harvard University remains the world’s best university for the 14th year, on a list dominated by American universities. Two British universities, Cambridge and Oxford, also make the top ten alongside US powerhouses Stanford, Berkeley, MIT and Princeton. 

Among the top Swedish performers, Karolinska jumped to 44th, while Uppsala University rose one place to 60th, and Stockholm University fell from 77th to 81st. 

Further down the list were Lund University (101-150), the University of Gothenburg (151-200), Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (201-300), Linköping University, Umeå University (301-400), and Stockholm School of Economics (401-500). 

Tomas Ahlbäck, a spokesman for Karolinska, said the university was not getting overly excited. 

“Few universities get too fixated on rankings. They don’t give a full picture of a university’s quality,” he told news agency TT. 

Asked if he was surprised that the university had risen in the ranking despite the high-profile sacking of the Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, Ahlbäck said: “No, not at all. KI’s operations are much bigger than that.”

Anders Malmberg, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Uppsala University, was also taking the ranking with a pinch of salt. 

“These ranking lists have become a big industry and they’re not meaningless. At the same time the things being evaluated are hard to measure,” he told TT. 

The Shanghai Ranking, compiled by the Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, examines the performance of 12,000 universities worldwide.

It rates universities according to a formula based on the number of articles they have published in prestigious academic journals, the number of highly-cited researchers working there, the number of Nobel Prizes or Fields Medals (in mathematics) won and the per-capita academic performance of each institution.

EDUCATION

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

Sweden's Internationella Engelska Skolan (IES) chain has been denied permission to open four new schools in Gothenburg, Huddinge, Norrtälje, and Upplands-Bro, after the schools inspectorate said it had not provided pupil data.

IES chain blocked from opening four new schools

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has denied permission to the chain to open a new planned new school in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm, even though the building that will house it is already half built. The inspectorate has also denied permission to three other schools which the chain had applied to start in 2023. 

In all four cases, the applications have been rejected because the school did not submit the required independent assessment for how many pupils the schools were likely to have. 

Jörgen Stenquist, IES’s deputy chief executive, said that IES has not in the past had to submit this data, as it has always been able to point to the queues of pupils seeking admissions to the school. 

“The fact that Engelska Skolan, as opposed to our competition, has never had the need to hire external companies to do a direct pupil survey is because we have had so many in line,” he told DN.

“In the past, it has been enough that we reported a large queue in the local area. But if the School Inspectorate wants us to conduct targeted surveys and ask parents directly if they want their children to start at our new schools, then maybe we have to start doing that.”

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According to the newspaper, when the inspectorate had in the past asked for pupil predictions, the chain has refused, stating simply “we do not make student forecasts”, which the inspectorate has then accepted. 

However, in this year’s application round, when IES wrote: “We do not carry out traditional interest surveys as we simply have not had a need for this,” the inspectorate treated it as grounds to reject its applications. 

According to DN, other school chain have been complaining to the inspectorate that IES gets favourable treatment and was excused some requirements other chains have to fulfil. 

Liselotte Fredzell, from the inspectorate’s permitting unit, confirmed that the inspectorate was trying to be more even handed. 

“Yes, it is true that we are now striving for a more equal examination of applications. Things may have been getting too slack, and we needed to tighten up.” 

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